Why HTML5 is killing Flash: it’s the devices, people!

Ruadhán O’Donoghue, MobiForge, 8/18/17

It’s 7 years now since Steve Jobs famously declared war on Flash in an open letter entitled “Thoughts on Flash“. With his knack for prescience, only now is it really looking like it’s lights out for Flash. In response, during the Android Keynote at Google IO 2010, Vic Gundotra cheekily declared that “it turns out on the Internet people use Flash”, that Android would still support Flash, and that it was “much nicer than just saying no”, referring to Apple’s decision not to support it. But, after five years, Flash was officially dropped from the Android platform, and since late 2011, Adobe no longer develops its mobile Flash player:

We will no longer continue to develop Flash Player in the browser to work with new mobile device configurations (chipset, browser, OS version, etc.) following the upcoming release of Flash Player 11.1 for Android and BlackBerry PlayBook.

Fast-forward to July 2017 and Adobe is putting the final nails in the coffin for Flash, albeit fairly slowly:

We will stop updating and distributing the Flash Player at the end of 2020 and encourage content creators to migrate any existing Flash content to these new open formats

Yes, Flash is dying a slow, slow death, and will no longer be distributed after 2020.

Pressure had been mounting on Flash from all sides: advertisers, publishers, and browser manufacturers. In 2015 Amazon sounded a death knell for Flash, saying that Flash based ads will no longer be permitted on its platforms from September. Use HTML5 instead, was the company’s advice.

Further woes for Flash came with the news that the Chrome browser would begin to automatically pause Flash based ads from 1st September that year. Google recommended switching to HTML5 (and indeed started to convert Flash ads to HTML5 automatically where possible). So, with Amazon’s ad network also ceasing Flash ads on that day, September 1st 2015 became something of a day of reckoning for Flash, and perhaps a day to be celebrated as a turning point in the history of the web (#FlashBegoneDay). From that day, we all started to see fewer Flash ads in our browsers.

In addition a large group of major news publishers banded together, manifesto-style, urging advertisers to deliver the final death blow to Flash, by moving away from the technology altogether. The letter listed the many benefits of moving to HTML5:

[T]he one open, industry-standard, universal format for building mobile-ready creative is HTML5.

Your opportunity has never been greater. Nearly half of the US population has a mobile phone with internet access, and one out of five pageviews on the web happen on a mobile device – a number that is growing every month.

HTML5 will enable you […] to make your creative ideas captivating on every screen, elevate your brand image, and lower your creative costs.

The letter closed off like this, with the prominence and influence of the participating publishers hard to miss:

The impact for mobile web can only be positive.

Why now is the right time for HTML5 to take over from Flash

Flash is history! This graph is a wonderful reminder of how HTML5 has grown over the past decade, and why Flash is no longer needed. HTML5-capable devices are everywhere; the devices are ready, people!

Number of HTML5 features supported by number of new devices released by year
21.5%32.2%41.8%Year Released200020012002200320042005200620072008200920102011201220132014Number of Devices Released0200400600800100012001400160018005 features10 features15 features20 features25 features
Number of HTML5 features

Chart reproduced from our HTML5 support in mobile devices article, using data from DeviceAtlas.

Posted on August 18, 2017 at 8:36 am by lesliemanzara · Permalink · Leave a comment
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Android apps can find nearby devices even when they’re offline

Jon Fingas, Engadget, 8/2/17

Nearby Connections doesn’t need an internet connection to start talking.

If you’ve ever wished that your smartphone’s apps would automatically do your bidding the moment you neared a device, you’re in luck. After previewing it at I/O in May, Google has made the second generation of its Nearby Connections toolkit available to Android developers. The updated framework uses Bluetooth and WiFi to find nearby devices, connect to them and perform tasks without requiring an internet connection. Your hotel room could auto-adjust the temperature the moment you walk in, Google suggests, while your phone could merge contacts whenever you’re close to your spouse.

The kit supports both mesh networks, where devices form an independent network on the spot, as well as a centralized connection where one device rules the roost. That’s particularly helpful in classrooms or meetings, where you’d want one device to take priority — say, a Jackbox-style party game where a host hands out trivia questions.

It’ll take a while for the new Nearby Connections to wend its way into the apps you use, but there are already companies who’ve had a head start. The Weather Channel is installing mesh networks in areas with poor internet access to help send weather warnings, Hotstar is offering offline media sharing and GameInsight will help you find and play people offline. And of course, Google has its own — an upcoming Android TV remote app will use Nearby Connections to get you started and turn on second-screen experiences while you’re watching shows. If more developers like the idea, this could quietly become one of Android’s more important assets, especially as smart homes take off.

Posted on August 2, 2017 at 5:51 pm by lesliemanzara · Permalink · Leave a comment
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Windows 10 preview connects your Android phone to your PC

Jon Fingas, Engadget, 8/2817

Pick up your web browsing where you left off.

Microsoft is acting on its promise to make PCs and phones live in harmony. It just posted a Windows 10 Insider Preview (on the Fast ring) that introduces the first batch of features integrating Windows with your mobile devices. If you have an Android phone, you can link it to your PC to continue your web browsing on the bigger screen. Once it’s set up, you only have to use your browser’s usual sharing option to punt a website to your computer. The preview is missing iPhone support and many of the slicker features Microsoft promised in the Fall Creators Update, such as seamless document syncing, but it could be worth a try.

Thankfully, that’s not the only addition in the preview. Cortana now shows certain web search results without prompting you to launch an external web browser, and you can tell the assistant to restart, log out or even turn off your PC. In Windows 10 Mobile, you can also switch to a portrait view while you’re using the PC-like Continuum mode. Fast ring releases like these aren’t for the faint-hearted (expect bugs), but it’s clear this is more than just bug fixes.

Posted on August 2, 2017 at 5:48 pm by lesliemanzara · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: Android, iOS, Mobile Technology

Google is finally making it easier to create GIFs on Android

BRETT WILLIAMS, Mashable, 7/21/17

Google’s Motion Stills app brought some much-needed focus and balance to the iPhone’s Live Photos when it launched last year. Thus far, however, it has only brought its steady video stabilizing goodness to iOS users.

That’s no longer the case. Google Research is finally rolling out Motion Stills for Android, giving everyone outside of Apple’s ecosystem a shot at tuning up their video content.

The new app is an odd fit for Android, which doesn’t have the same Live Photo functionality as iOS phones, but that doesn’t mean intrepid phone photographers won’t take advantage of the editing package to GIF the hell out of anything and everything around them for maximum shareable potential.

The app will allow users to record quick Motion Stills, which are similar to the short video clips iOS devices capture as Live Photos. They’ll be able automatically edit the media with the motion stabilizing feature, taking shaky footage and morphing it into smooth, streamlined shots.

The new Android version of Motion Stills also includes Fast Forward, a feature that shrinks down and edits longer videos by pushing the speed. Lengthier clips (up to a minute long) can be ramped up to eight times the pace of real life and doctored with the stabilization tool.

Google Research’s team says the Android release is a retooling of the iOS version, with a brand new streaming approach that processes each frame of a video even as it’s being recorded. That leads to near immediate frame stabilization, in theory, which means you’ll be able to share your GIF much more quickly than if you used another conversion tool. Rather than writing a whole new file, the original recording is altered, too, which could mean your memory and battery don’t take as big of a hit.

The app looks cool, but it’s still a watered-down version of the features available to iOS users. None of Motion Stills’ expanded editing options that really make it fun (like active text for GIFs and pinpoint image exporting) are included with the Android launch.

Google says Motion Stills doubles as an opportunity for the team to experiment and develop its tools and strategies for short-form video, so more of those features could be on the way. The app is available now for phones running Android 5.1 and later, so get GIFing.

Posted on July 21, 2017 at 5:34 pm by lesliemanzara · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: Android, Mobile Technology

Mozilla’s new Firefox features improve browsing on iOS and Android

David Lumb, Engadget, 7/21/17

The mobile apps get a few upgrades apiece.

Firefox is adding a few quality-of-life features to its mobile browsers. To celebrate hitting one million downloads in the month since it launched, the minimalistic, privacy-intensive Firefox Focus for Android now lets users download files, supports full-screen video and enables opening the browser right from notifications.

Firefox for iOS added a night mode to ease your nocturnal journeys across the web and a QR code reader for…whenever you need that. The browser will also display recently-visited sites and highlights from earlier sessions when users pop open a new tab, and the Feature Recommendations addition will point out time-saving shortcuts.

Posted on July 21, 2017 at 5:30 pm by lesliemanzara · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: Android, iOS, Mobile Technology

Google brings its fancy Motion Stills GIF-making app to Android

Jessica Conditt, Engadget, 7/20/17

It’s been an iOS exclusive for the past year.

Motion Stills has existed in a strange space for the past year. It’s a Google-made app but it’s been available only on iOS, piggybacking off Apple’s Live Photos function to create dramatic, stabilized GIFs and short videos. Android owners, Google’s main user base, were left out of the fun entirely — until today.

Motion Stills is available on Android, complete with a handful of updates. A new recording interface allows users to capture a short video with a single tap, like snapping a photo, or condense a longer recording (up to one minute long) with the Fast Forward function. On Android, Motion Stills comes with a fresh trimming algorithm that’s designed to protect against accidental camera shakes and pocket shots. Just like on iOS, users can capture their shots without an internet connection.

Google redesigned the Android app’s video pipeline so that it processes each frame of a video as it’s recorded. “By computing intermediate motion metadata, we are able to immediately stabilize the recording while still performing loop optimization over the full sequence,” the Google Researchblog says. “All this leads to instant results after recording — no waiting required to share your new GIF.”

Now that Motion Stills is on Android, Google says it’s considering integrating the tech into its proprietary tools like Google Photos.

Apple users, don’t fear: When iOS 11 launches later this year, it’ll bring Motion Stills-esque updates to Live Photos. That might be one reason Google decided to (finally) move Motion Stills to Android.

Posted on July 20, 2017 at 4:58 pm by lesliemanzara · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: Android, iOS, Mobile Technology

Apple is making Samsung rich

, Business Insider, 7/7/17

Samsung Electronics on Friday forecasted record profit and sharply increased revenue in an earnings-guidance release.  Samsung expects its operating profit to increase by 72%, to $12.1 billion, and revenue to rise by 18%, to about $52 billion.  Those are strong results — and it looks like they’re coming from Samsung’s top smartphone rival, Apple, analysts told Reuters.  Samsung is best known as a brand that sells phones like the Galaxy S8. But its most profitable division sells parts, like screens and memory chips, to companies including Apple.  In fact, Samsung is reported to be the only supplier of the new next-generation OLED screenexpected to be a key selling point of the iPhone 8.

Wall Street analysts expect Apple’s iPhone 8 to be a sales monster, with a new design and a backlog of loyal customers waiting to upgrade spurring a “supercycle” of sales. If Apple plans to launch the iPhone in September, it’s probably already taking shipments of parts from its suppliers, including Samsung.

“Final June sales for our Apple Monitor rose by 18% month-over-month and well above the average decline of 2% over the past twelve years. This compares to the five-year average decrease of 7% and a 2% increase in June 2016,” Brian White, an analyst at Drexel Hamilton, wrote in a note looking at Apple’s suppliers, which he calls the “Apple Monitor.”

“We believe the initial ramp of certain components for the new iPhones this fall, combined with recently launched Macs and iPad Pros, contributed to this performance,” he continued.

Samsung’s operating profit this quarter may even top Apple’s for the first time. Analysts estimate Apple’s operating profit this quarter at $10.5 billion, according to Bloomberg data.

So even though Samsung’s vice chairman and heir apparent, Lee Jae-yong, is on trial over allegations he was part of a corruption scheme, the company continues to deliver huge results.

Samsung will announce its earnings at the end of the month. Apple’s earnings report is scheduled for August 1.

Posted on July 7, 2017 at 5:59 pm by lesliemanzara · Permalink · Leave a comment
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Touch-friendly controls are coming to Chrome OS

Saqib Shah, Engadget, 7/7/17

Don’t be surprised if this ends up in the next version of Chrome’s stable build.

Google’s lightweight Chrome OS was never intended for touch, but that didn’t stop the likes of Samsung and Acer creating touch-enabled Chromebooks. It probably helped that the OS was set to receive access to millions of Android apps. All that was left was to put those touch displays to good use. And, the updated launcher for Chrome Canary (the experimental iteration) is a sign of things to come.

The new touch-friendly launcher sits at the bottom of the screen with just the Google search bar and suggested apps visible. From there, you can swipe up to reveal all your apps. Additionally, you can tap to use the voice search function, which will open your request in a new Chrome window.

Canary comes with the latest, untested features — meaning it can also be pretty buggy — and runs alongside the regular Chrome. If you’re one of those people that’s interested in the code behind new builds, you can find that here.

Posted on July 7, 2017 at 5:55 pm by lesliemanzara · Permalink · Leave a comment
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Unlock your PC with your Samsung phone’s fingerprint reader

Jon Fingas, Engadget, 7/7/17

Virtually any recent Galaxy now supports Windows Hello.

Have a recent Samsung phone and a Windows 10 PC? Life’s about to get a bit easier. Samsung has updated its Flow app to let you use the fingerprint reader on Galaxy devices running Android Marshmallow or newer (such as the S6, S7 and S8) to log into any Windows 10 PC using Hello, not just Samsung’s own Galaxy TabPro S. If you regularly keep your phone on-hand, you won’t have to enter your password every time you sit down at your computer.

Flow is also much more helpful if you regularly check alerts on your phone. The app now syncs mobile notifications with any Windows 10 device, rather than just Samsung-branded PCs. You won’t have to worry about missing a text message or an Instagram like just because you’re working at your desk.

Posted on July 7, 2017 at 5:53 pm by lesliemanzara · Permalink · Leave a comment
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Rooting Android vs Jailbreaking iPhone: Which One is Better?

Rajesh Pandey, iPhoneHacks, 5/30/17

For advanced iPhone users, the best way to customise their handset is to jailbreak it which opens the door to a world of tweaks and hacks. While latest iOS releases are now not getting jailbreak’d as frequently as before, it still remains a popular choice among power users who cannot use their iPhone without their favorite Cydia tweaks.

Then, over in the Android world, there’s rooting. Similar to jailbreak, rooting an Android device opens the door to a world of hacks and tweaks that help improve a device performance, add new features to it, and more. Similar to jailbreaking, rooting is popular among power Android users, though its popularity has declined over the last few years.

Rooting Android vs Jailbreaking iPhone

There have been long (and unhealthy) debates among iPhone and Android users as to which is better: a jailbroken iPhone or a rooted Android device. While on surface, both things might seem the same — getting unauthorised access to certain system partitions to tweak files and make the device do what you want — they are actually very different from each other.

Rooting and Jailbreaking are the same thing

On paper, rooting an Android smartphone and jailbreaking an iPhone are the same thing. One essentially bypasses the security checks and restrictions imposed by the OEMs to gain access to system files and modify them to enhance existing features or add new ones. Both — rooting and jailbreaking — void the warranty of a device, though both are reversible and one can always restore their phone back to its stock state if they wish to.

Rooting and jailbreaking differ from each other in what they are capable of doing and the process of doing it. Rooting an Android device is more complex and time-consuming while jailbreaking an iPhone usually takes a few steps. However, while it is possible to root most Android devices out there, it’s rare that a jailbreak tool is available for the latest iOS release. Many Android OEMs like OnePlus actually embrace the third-party developer community and make it easier to root their devices. Apple, on the other hand, is completely against jailbreaking and actively patches exploits with every new iOS release that makes jailbreaking difficult.

Why root an Android device?

There are many benefits to rooting an Android device. The whole concept that it provides you with greater customisation options is true only to a certain extent. Most OEMs now offer plenty of customisation options on their Android devices which will suffice the need of most people out there. While you do get more customisation options on a rooted Android device, the additional options will only please a handful of people.

Nowadays, people primarily root their Android device to install a newer version of Android on it. It’s widely known that most Android OEMs end up ditching their smartphones a few months after its release. This means that they are left without software updates and it is up to the third-party community to keep the phone going. So, for example, the OnePlus One which never officially received the Nougat update is still going strong more than three years after its release, with plenty of Android 7.1 Nougat based custom ROMs available for it.

Another reason why most people root their handset is to remove the bloatware that their phone ships with. Some OEMs are still notorious for shipping their phones with plenty of pre-installed apps that cannot be removed. By rooting, users are able to remove such apps and free up internal storage on their device. Similarly, on older and mid-range devices, users root their handset to install a debloated custom ROM for better performance

That’s not all though. In terms of advanced customisation, rooting an Android device lets one theme the SystemUI of the OS, change system fonts, enable hidden features, and more. Then, there’s also a custom framework like Xposed that provides one with access to features ported from other Android OEM skins or future versions of Android on their devices.

Rooting an Android device can lead to Android Pay and other banking apps not working on it due to the system partition being modified. For this, there’s Magisk —  a ‘magic mask’ that lets one modify the system partitions without touching the system files at all. With Magisk, a rooted user will be able to install their favorite mods and framework, while still being able to use Android Pay and apps like Netflix.

Why Jailbreak an iPhone?

Jailbreaking an iPhone is all about bypassing the restrictions imposed by Apple to customise iOS the way one wants. If you can live inside Apple’s walled garden, it’s a beautiful place to be in but if you want plenty of customisation options, you will find this walled garden suffocating.

Jailbreaking an iPhone allows a user to change the default system apps, replace system icons, use a different launcher, theme the system UI, change system fonts, customise the Control Center, and more. Jailbreak is outright about customising iOS and its system apps and adding some new functionalities to it.

Most iPhone users jailbreak their phone for Cydia tweaks. Most of the customizations options post jailbreaking an iPhone are to be applied through Cydia. Some popular Cydia tweaks include Activator, BioProtect, Cylinder, iCleaner, and Zeppelin. They all help one customise or enhance the already existing feature set of iOS to make them even better.

Bye Bye Updates

A common downside to both rooting and jailbreaking is that you will have to bid adieu to software updates, with the security of your smartphone being compromised as well. Even if you get a notification of a new OTA update on a rooted Android smartphone or a jailbroken device, installing it will only end up soft bricking the device.

Rooting or jailbreaking your smartphone also makes it easier for hackers and law enforcement agencies to extract data from these phones using sophisticated tools.

Which one is better?

Due to the walled nature of iOS, even slightly advanced customisation options requires one to jailbreak their iPhone. In comparison, changing system icons, replacing stock system apps are all easily possible on an Android device even without root. However, iPhone users don’t need to jailbreak their device to improve its performance, remove bloatware or to update it to the latest version of the OS.

Rooting and jailbreaking have their own pros and cons, with none of them actually being better than both. It’s just that they are means to the same end: provide greater control to end users over their devices

Posted on May 30, 2017 at 11:25 am by lesliemanzara · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: Android, iOS, Mobile Technology · Tagged with: ,